Ryan McGowan believes St Johnstone will be playing his former club Hearts at “a pretty good time” this Sunday.
The 33-year-old is a Jambos hero after helping them win the Scottish Cup a decade ago.
But he returns to Gorgie this weekend as a Saints player hoping to capitalise on any lingering negativity associated with his old team’s agonising Europa League exit against FC Zurich on Thursday.
“It will be good,” he told Saints TV ahead of his first match as a player at Tynecastle since turning out for Dundee United there in December 2015.
“Obviously I’ve got a good connection with the club. I spent a lot of time there coming through the ranks and winning the Scottish Cup.
“It’s one I’m looking forward to but it’s a massive opportunity for us because they played Thursday night and we’ll hopefully catch them licking their wounds.
“Especially with them losing on Sunday (against Celtic) and having a couple of players sent off (Toby Sibbick and Alex Cochrane), they’ll be sort of on the bare bones of their squad so I feel like it’s a pretty good time to catch them. I’m looking forward to going there but most importantly trying to get the points.”
McGowan knows from his experience as a Hearts player that visiting teams can benefit from turning the Tynecastle crowd against their team.
“They’re at home, so it’s a difficult place to play,” he said. “But having played there many times, if the away team starts well and gets on top early, it can be a difficult place to play as the home team.
“So we need to make sure we’re right up for it and make sure the crowd gets on the back of the Hearts players. Like any game, the first goal will be vitally important.”
Despite leaving Tynecastle almost 10 years ago, McGowan will encounter some familiar faces on Sunday, including fellow Australians Kye Rowles, Cammy Devlin and Nathaniel Atkinson.
“There are three Aussie boys there now so I speak with them regularly and I still live in Edinburgh so I get to catch up with them,” he said. “It’s probably showing my age that a lot of the boys I played with have either retired or moved on.
“Craig Gordon (current captain) and Robbie Neilson (manager) were there when I was there as a young boy coming through the ranks. It’s more the background staff and people that work around the club that have been there for years that I’ll look forward to seeing. But hopefully I’ll have the last laugh on Sunday.”